I started blogging about the Orioles in 2006. I chronicled six of the final 14 losing seasons in Baltimore; to date, I have written about a heck of a lot more losing than winning. Various motivations have helped me to keep at it for as long as I have, some of which make sense and others that are simply foolish. At the core of it all has been the simple truth that I love this team, which was something of a birthright in my family.
In the not-so-distant past, when having a winning baseball team seemed, shall we say, less than certain, I took an interest in the Orioles’ past. I’m no historian, but I needed fresh content to keep myself interested in writing. Moreover, I was frustrated that a once-great franchise had become a punch line. I wanted a more meaningful connection to the team I loved. It was time to dig deeper.
Hopefully, through these efforts, I might help others be reminded - or like me, learn for the first time - about unique players and moments. It hasn’t simply been about the legends; I’ve delighted in the quirky, the off-beat, and the lesser-known as well. There’s joy in unearthing what might otherwise be forgotten.
I mentioned at the outset of this post that a portion of my motivation to continue blogging about the Orioles during the dark days was foolish. There’s no greater example than this: If and when the team started winning again, I didn’t want to be considered a fair-weather fan. I was documenting my loyalty to the team in virtual ink for the benefit of an imagined adversary.
Ah, there’s that term: fair-weather fan. Put another way, a bandwagon fan. Both phrases display our natural aversion toward people who only come around when times are good. Perhaps our use of those terms for others also speaks to a certain insecurity about of our own standing. You wouldn’t be as loyal if you had it as bad as I ... and I wish I had it as good as you.
There’s no smooth transition into connecting the experience I just described with the uprising in Baltimore. It’s a tricky business to conflate sports and social issues. The combination has provided our nation with some beautiful moments that speak to true progress - Thank you, No. 42 - but it has also been used too frequently and sometimes cynically. I therefore appreciate the Buck Showalters and Adam Joneses of the world, who are aware and sympathetic of the current circumstances in our city but don’t pretend that a game can heal wounds that run much deeper than a 162-game season or even a 60-year history.
I’ve drawn hope and inspiration this week not from baseball but rather from the images of residents uniting to clean up local neighborhoods. Times aren’t so good, but these aren’t fair-weather fans of the city.
The word distraction seems to have been used quite a bit to describe the Orioles’ role in this recovery. That’s not what I want. I don’t want to be distracted. I’ve been guilty of loving Baltimore in part, not in whole. You might even call me a fair-weather fan of the city that I claim to love, a person who celebrates the good and avoids the bad. There’s no denying the bad right now. It’s time for me to dig deeper.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.